The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) together with the National Renewable Energy Platform (NREP) is organizing the first ever Renewable Energy Conference & Expo 2022 that will take place at Kololo Airstrip on 3rd - 5th November 2022.
The expo is being organized under the theme 'Renewable Energy for Sustainable Industrialization, Inclusive Growth and Economic Recovery."
In this interview, Earthfinds editor Baz Waiswa talks to Nicholas Mukisa, the Deputy National Coordinator for the National Renewable Energy Platform, about the expo and the potential of renewable energy in Uganda.
What is the Renewable Energy Conference & Expo 2022 and what do you aim to achieve?
The Renewable Energy Conference & Expo 2022 is one of the deliverables of NREP and the agenda for this conference is to bring together all players in the industry.
We are looking at the private sector coming in to showcase products they have and development partners to exhibit and also make presentations. We have delegates who will come from Germany, the UK, UAE, India and other places. We are going to have manufacturers come and exhibit at the expo.
We are targeting the private sector, government and MDAs, and development partners. We will have the general auditorium where morning activities like the launch will take place and after eleven, we will have breakout sessions and side events.
The expo is going to be a one-stop centre for renewable energy with investment and business opportunities. The expo will be free to the public but exhibitors have to pay. Exhibitors can register at www.re-conf.com or call NREP.
What should people look out for at the expo?
One of the challenges we have in the sector is reliance on biomass. At the moment we have advances in the energy sector. Technology has advanced. We have now moved from tier one to tier two technology like electric pressure cookers, solar-powered hotplates and others that are the latest on the market.
The expo will provide an opportunity for people to interact with the private sector investors who have ventured into these advanced technologies. This is going to be a point of awareness. People will learn a thing or two.
When you talk of renewable energy what do you exactly mean?
These are energy resources that cannot get finished. For example, the sun will shine as long as we still have life. The wind will blow, always. The water will always flow. Geothermal, which is underground, like Kitagata, will always be here.
When you talk of sustainable industrialization, what is the state of renewable energy in Uganda?
Today, if you are talking about renewable energy, you will mention hydro, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. We mostly use hydro and solar. Renewable energy contributes about 92.5% of our energy generation. That is even before you incorporate Karuma and other plants.
Hydro is the most matured technology among the renewables and since it has been here longer than solar and wind, people think it is not renewable.
But you know that most of our industries use diesel and generators which is not good if you are talking about sustainability, the environment and not jeopardizing the future generation. Today we are talking about climate change, and pollution - if you are using heavy fuel oils, these are heavy pollutants and not good.
That is why the government is trying to decommission some of these plants and see that we can use renewables. Today, the president (Museveni) wants direct power lines to industrial parks; to supply electricity.
Events like the upcoming expo are aiming at promoting renewable energy use but the market notices issues like pricing as a hindrance, how is this being addressed?
If you look at the global trends of solar prices, the prices have been going down tremendously. If you look at the prices of solar in 2000, then 2020 and now, you will see that they have fallen by over 80%. And not only solar panels but also inverters, modules and other equipment that use solar.
The other issue is the presence of counterfeit or fake products on the market.
Counterfeits are killing the market. People should get value for money. We should at how we should standardize. Opportunities like the expo and NREP stakeholder engagements can help.
We need to tighten our borders to ensure that no counterfeits enter the market. No one will be talking about affordability if they are getting a quality, durable, value-for-money product on the market.